Biting the Messenger: USPS Announces Worst Cities for Dog Attacks on Mail Carriers (2013)

The United States Postal Service (USPS) released an annual report on Wednesday showing a total of 5,500 dog attacks on postal workers across the country in 2013, which was actually about a 6 percent decrease from the number of attacks in 2012.

The USPS has been keeping track of statistics for dog attacks specifically involving their employees for years, and releases the report annually in conjunction with Dog Bite Prevention Week, which spans May 18-24 this year.

In addition to tracking the trends of dog attacks on letter carriers, the agency’s report also ranks individual U.S. cities based on the number of attacks in each city for the given year.

This year, Houston – with 63 reported dog attacks on mail carriers in 2013 – supplanted Los Angeles as the worst city for dog attacks on USPS workers. L.A. had reported 69 attacks on mail carriers in 2012, but that number fell to 61 in 2013.


Number of Dog Attacks on Postal Carriers by City, 2013 (money.cnn.com)

Contributing Factors in Animal Attacks on Postal Workers

Linda DeCarlo, Manager of Safety for USPS, says one of the biggest problems postal workers face when it comes to animal attacks is that dog owners don’t take the threat of an attack seriously.

“There’s a myth we often hear at the Postal Service; ‘Don’t worry – my dog won’t bite,’” says DeCarlo. "Dog attacks are a nationwide issue and not just a postal problem. Any dog can bite and all attacks are preventable through responsible pet ownership."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that approximately 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year, though a significant percentage of those attacks reported are minor. According to DogBites.org, approximately 800,000 of the 4.5 million dog bite victims seek medical attention for their injuries. It is estimated that half of the 800,000 victims who seek treatment are children.

In hopes of educating the public during Dog Bite Prevention Weeek, DeCarlo also offered the following set of basic tips for preventing and avoiding dog attacks on postal workers:

  • If a letter carrier delivers mail or packages to your front door, place your dog into a separate room and close the door before opening the front door. Dogs have been known to burst through screen doors or plate-glass windows to get at strangers.
  • Dog owners should remind their children about the need to keep the family dog secured. Parents should remind their children not to take mail directly from letter carriers in the presence of the family pet as the dog may see handing mail to a child as a threatening gesture.
  • The Postal Service places the safety of its employees as a top priority. If a letter carrier feels threatened by a vicious dog or if a dog is running loose, the owner may be asked to pick up the mail at the Post Office until the carrier is assured the pet has been restrained. If the dog is roaming the neighborhood, the pet owner’s neighbors may be asked to pick up their mail at the Post Office as well.

Where Does Your City Rank?

According to the data provided by USPS, Seattle was tied for 15th with 28 attacks in 2013. This was a significant decrease from 2012, in which there were a total of 42 reported dog attacks on mail carriers.

Below is the complete list of cities ranked by the number of reported dog attacks on USPS postal workers in the year 2013. USPS pointed out in the release that 62 individual cities make up the top 30 rankings, due to the fact that some cities reported the same number of attacks for the year.

(Data from USPS.com)

RANKING

CITY, STATE

ATTACKS

1

HOUSTON, TX

63

2

LOS ANGELES, CA

61

3

CLEVELAND, OH

58

4

SAN DIEGO, CA

53

5

CHICAGO, IL

47

6

BALTIMORE, MD

46

7

DALLAS, TX

45

8

DENVER, CO

41

9

COLUMBUS, OH

39

10

KANSAS CITY, MO

33

11

MINNEAPOLIS, MN

32

PHOENIX, AZ

12

PORTLAND, OR

31

13

SACRAMENTO, CA

30

14

INDIANAPOLIS, IN

29

15

PHILADELPHIA, PA

28

SEATTLE, WA

ST LOUIS, MO

16

CINCINNATI, OH

26

FORT WORTH, TX

SAN JOSE, CA

17

CHARLOTTE, NC

25

18

MIAMI, FL

23

19

FRESNO, CA

22

LONG BEACH, CA

OAKLAND, CA

SAN ANTONIO, TX

WICHITA, KS

20

DETROIT, MI

21

21

JACKSONVILLE, FL

20

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK

SAN FRANCISCO, CA

TULSA, OK

22

MEMPHIS, TN

19

23

BROOKLYN, NY

18

ROCHESTER, NY

24

WASHINGTON, DC

17

25

PITTSBURGH, PA

16

26

AUSTIN, TX

15

LOUISVILLE, KY

27

BATON ROUGE, LA

14

EL PASO, TX

FLUSHING, NY

SPRINGFIELD, MO

28

BAKERSFIELD, CA

13

DAYTON, OH

FORT WAYNE, IN

LAS VEGAS, NV

NEW ORLEANS, LA

VAN NUYS, CA

29

ATLANTA, GA

12

AURORA, CO

MILWAUKEE, WI

SAN JUAN, PR

YOUNGSTOWN, OH

30

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA

11

DES MOINES, IA

EVANSVILLE, IN

RICHMOND, CA

RICHMOND, VA

SALT LAKE CITY, UT

SANTA ANA, CA

 

Chris Davis
Top-rated, award-winning, attorney practicing wrongful death & serious injury law in Seattle.
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